Minor League Notes, May 11, 2012
**San Francisco Giants outfield prospect Roger Kieschnick is hitting .331/.392/.632 in his first 34 games for Triple-A Fresno in the Pacific Coast League, with eight homers, 14 walks, and 37 strikeouts in 136 at-bats. Two oddities in his statistical profile stand out: he has a reverse platoon split this year (1.147 OPS vs. lefties, .971 against right-handers), but more prominently a very sharp home/road split, .391/.425/.812 on the road but just .269/.363/.448 at home, with Fresno being one of the more neutral environments in the high-offense PCL.
Despite the high batting average this year, scouting reports from PCL sources remain very similar to reports from his two-year sojourn in Double-A: impressive power from the left side, but a long swing with contact issues will probably prevent a high batting average and OBP in the majors.
**I don't have a current report on why this is happening, but Tampa Bay Rays outfield prospect Mikie Mahtook is showing no power at all in the Florida State League. The former LSU star and 2011 first-round pick is hitting .270 for the Charlotte Stone Crabs and has stolen nine bases in 13 attempts, but is slugging just .303. He's hit just two doubles and a triple in 122 at-bats. He's making decent contact with just 23 strikeouts in 122 at-bats, but isn't showing nearly as much pop as he did last year in college or in the Arizona Fall League. I'm not sure what is going on there but I'll try to find out.
**Meanwhile, Detroit Tigers outfield prospect Tyler Collins is also homerless in the Florida State League, but with a much better overall line than Mahtook, hitting .319/.397/.437 with 13 walks, 16 strikeouts, and 10 doubles for Lakeland. A sixth-round pick last June from Howard Junior College (a fine baseball program) in Texas, Collins is short but strong from the left side at 5-11, 205, makes contact, and has a solid approach with more home run potential than he's shown so far.
**Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect Denis Phipps was one of the biggest positive surprises in 2011: he came out of nowhere to hit .346/.397/.527 in 463 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A, including a stunning .380/.428/.576 mark in 158 at-bats after being promoted to Louisville. Phipps' tools had always been respected, but he'd never hit anything close to that before, and was considered just organization filler until last season. It was an open question whether the season was a good-luck fluke or not. It looks like it was just luck, at least the late-season run at Louisville.
Returning to Triple-A in 2012, he's hitting just .167/.238/.311 with four homers, 11 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 132 at-bats, still showing some pop but with a sharp reversal in his BABIP from last season. If you combine the two Louisville samples, you get 73 games with a .283/.341/.455 line, 24 walks and 80 strikeouts in 290 at-bats. That's not terrible, but it's not great coming from a 26-year-old. I really don't think his profile has changed; he's got some tools, but an overaggressive hitting approach limits his offensive upside from what it would otherwise be.